In different places in different times, three men are connected by their shared bloodline: the toymaker Phillip LeMarchand in Paris in 1796, creating a puzzle box to the specification of the cruel Duc de L’Isle, the architect John Merchant in New York in 1996, designing a skyscraper whose details are influenced by the sketches of his ancestor and his own dark dreams, and Doctor Paul Merchant aboard the space station Minos in 2127, haunted by the past, fighting the future and summoning demons.
Minos having cut of all contact with Earth for reasons unknown, it is stormed by armed troops who take Merchant into custody and under interrogation he tries to explain his actions, telling an unbelievable tale of a curse that has run in his family for generations which he is now trying to end in the dark and decaying corridors of that orbiting platform, his captors understandably dubious until the deaths begin among their own people, their weapons useless against the Priest of Hell.
The fourth in the sequence, Hellraiser: Bloodline was again written by Peter Atkins, giving it a sense of continuity with both Hellbound and Hell on Earth even as it marks a radical departure, moving not only into space and the realms of science fiction but also with three time periods nested into each other and the origin of the Lament Configuration, the most infamous of the LeMarchand Boxes, in the same way that Hell on Earth explored the Priest of Hell himself, formerly Captain Elliot Spencer and most commonly known as Pinhead.
Directed by Kevin Yagher but credited upon release to Alan Smithee in reflection of the substantial reworking of the film in post-production, it is clear that Hellraiser: Bloodline is not all that it should be, the broad ambition which would have seen it expanding the mythology of the series clearly outstripping the budget and presented in a fragmented form of underdeveloped characters and confusing scenes, but also that it had the potential to be one of the better sequels had circumstances not dictated otherwise.
Yagher’s background in special effects, makeup and prosthetics, he is a visual director rather than one who coaches the performances of his actors, and Doug Bradley aside, as comfortable as one can be in a role which requires such restrictive appliances and costuming, most of the ensemble led by Bruce Ramsay as the three representatives of the Merchant lineage are no more than adequate, although as Angelique, an immortal demon encased in human flesh, Valentina Vargas at least plays with determination even if any purpose beyond bloody chaos is lost on the cutting room floor.
An ill-fated deep space rescue mission which turns to horror originally released almost eighteen months before Event Horizon, among the changes enforced upon Hellraiser: Bloodline was a finale both rushed and unconvincing – would a being able to track the souls of the damned across dimensions really be fooled by a hologram? – though strangely, as the only film which is partially set in the far future rather than the present day it is this scene which marks the official conclusion of the filmed story of the Priest of Hell, the Lament Configuration and the sequence as a whole.